Bates Motel “A Death in the Family” Review (Season 3 Episode 1)

Bates Motel A Death in the Family Season 3 Episode 1 02

Bates Motel returned tonight with the premiere of their third season, and “A Death in the Family” starts off right where you’d expect: With Norman creepily spooning with Norma in her bed. In what is definitely the strangest “will they/won’t they” relationship on TV right now, Norman and Norma continue to be equal parts disturbing and fascinating as a duo. The premiere developed their relationship a bit more, but also caught us up with the rest of the group in White Pine Bay.

Let’s start with Norman and Norma, though, as they really are the heart and soul of the show. I’m really loving how honest they can be with each other now that Norman’s murderous tendencies and blackouts are out in the open for both of them. When Norman had his disturbing vision of Miss Watson at school, I totally expected him to do what he’s been doing the last few seasons and lie to Norma about what he saw. Instead he ran straight home and was totally honest with his mom, which felt really refreshing. I always expected Norman and Norma to start working together as a team as they start to try to control Norman’s tendencies. Obviously we all know how the story ends, with Norman killing his mom and adopting her as a second identity. We’ve already seen glimpses of what that looks like, when we saw Norman visualizing Norma during his lie detector test, so I assume that’s a brief glimpse at what it will look like when Norman eventually kills her and just absorbs her as an alternate personality. It makes you wonder if Norman could theoretically kill his mom while the show is still going on and just keep Vera Farmiga on as a figment of Norman’s imagination.

These two had a bit of a falling out when Norma caught Norman peeping on Tracy Spiridakos’ character Annika in the shower. It’s a little strange seeing Spiridakos playing such a highly sexualized character when I saw her last on Revolution playing a decidedly unsexy character, but now she’s playing a high end prostitute staying at the motel. As soon as she drove up I thought she had “Norman’s first victim of the season” written all over her, and it looks like I was right. Norman definitely seems to have some kind of sexual trigger to his killings, since he killed Miss Watson right when he thought she was trying to seduce him. Here’s hoping that Norman and Emma don’t get that close!

Oh, and that reminds me: Norman asked Emma out! Yay! I had forgotten how much I love Emma and Olivia Cooke, but seeing her wheel in her oxygen tank made me fall in love with her all over again. The fact that she’s getting so close to Norman and her bad diagnosis makes me nervous that she might be the big death of the season, which would really bum me out. Olivia Cooke has been getting more and more movie roles, so I guess that’s just the way it goes sometime. You can’t keep a good actress around forever!

The only part of the episode that didn’t hit for me was the continued drama between Caleb and Dylan. Caleb has always been a huge blank slate character with really no exciting qualities, and the “deadbeat dad wanting to reconnect with his son” is a character we’ve seen a billion times played by better actors and given better material. Kenny Johnson is fine, but he’s really not given much to do. I hope his interactions with Dylan get a little more exciting than awkward car trips and fireside chats, so I guess we’ll see what’s going on with those two as the season progresses.

Overall it was a pretty great season premiere, and we’re only one episode in and it appears Norman has made a kill already! Are we going to have a much bigger body count this season? What do you think? Sound off in the comments section below!

Random Thoughts:

– Why does everybody on this show say “mother” now? Obviously Norman does it, but Caleb said it a couple times, too! Call her your “mom” like everybody else, weirdos!

– Olivia Cooke’s star has really risen since this show began, between her starring role in Ouija and her critically acclaimed turn in “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.”

– I’m definitely going to use Norman’s “Move over you silly woman” line on my wife in bed tonight. I’m sure that will do wonders for me.